Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Rail Development Corporation Ltd (K-Rail) is getting ready to host an open debate in the State Capital city in response to the ongoing agitation against its proposed SilverLine semi high-speed rail project.
Experts who support the project and those who oppose it on socio-economic, environmental, and technical grounds have been invited to air their views.
Alok Kumar Verma, a retired Chief Bridge Engineer who was part of preparing the preliminary feasibility report of the SilverLine project but later raised stiff objections, has been invited as a speaker. RVG Menon, former director of ANERT and former president of Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, and Joseph C Mathew, a social and political observer, were also included in the panel of those speaking against the project.
Subodh Jain, retired Railway Board Member, and SN Raghuchandran Nair, president, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Trivandrum), have been included as panelists to speak in favour of the semi high-speed railway project. Though Saji Gopinath, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala Digital University, was also listed as a pro-K-Rail speaker, he would be replaced by another person due to his unavailability on the said date.
State Principal Secretary (Science and Technology) K P Sudheer will be the moderator. As many as 50 invited guests and members of the media will be allowed entry at the panel meeting.
The two-hour-long panel discussion titled "Vaadikanum Jayikanumalla, Ariyanum Ariyikkanum" will be held here on April 28. (The aforementioned debate topic literally means 'Not to argue or win but to know and inform'.)
No invites to People's Forum members
No one from the Anti-SilverLine People's Forum has been invited to the discussions. They are also demanding that the government should hold discussions with them.
No one from K-Rail Ltd is also speaking at the open debate. The agency has decided to keep away from the panel discussion to maintain the impartiality of the whole event.
The Pinarayi Government is coming up with a panel discussion on the K-Rail project for the first time. One of the major criticisms by the Opposition and others spearheading the agitation was that those who oppose the project were not given a chance to air their opinion in the public interactions held earlier by the Chief Minister and the ministers.
Only the official position on the matter was briefed at such meetings and no discussions were allowed.